14 November 2011

Catholic church launches Operation Get Bums on Pews

The Catholic Church church in England and Wales has launched its first outreach campaign to get people back into the pews, with its lapsed membership thought to number as many as five million.

Starting at the weekend in York Crossing the Threshold is national tour of talks and workshops to help clergy and parishioners re-evangelise friends and family. Around a million people regularly attend mass on Sundays, but church leaders say there are many more who are baptised but do not go to church.

Kieran Conry, bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said no-shows were more likely to do with laziness and children's extra-curricular commitments than controversies surrounding the pope or clerical sexual abuse scandals. Conry said: "We have something we're trying to market and we're just reminding people there's something that can bring you happiness, satisfaction and friendship. There are probably people out there who would like to come back but don't know how to go about it. There is a fear of standing out, of doing the wrong thing."

The tour will also take in Birmingham, Crawley and Cardiff. Catholic churches could be intimidating places, said Conry, and it was important for those taking part to offer a personal invitation to lapsed Catholics to come back.

"Some congregations can be entirely white, middle-class and wealthy and if you don't fit in you might not feel comfortable. I don't think clergy are always friendly and sometimes Catholics appear quite cold. We had a tradition of not speaking out of respect: you said your prayers and minded your business. We have to be careful about that."

Last year the Pope opened a new Vatican department to try to reinvigorate belief among Catholics in developed countries where church attendance has dropped.

I think Conry will have to think a bit harder about the reasons why people no longer to to Church. I have not been inside a place of worship, except for Weddings and funerals for over 30 years.

Clerical abuse was not one of the reasons why I stopped attending mass, it was the Church's stand on social issues, including contraception and abortion, the general support among the hierarchy for repressive regimes ( think of Central and Latin America at the time and the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero), the Pope's oppostion to Liberation Theology, the Church's brutal history,,,, and so on.

Lesser reasons included the sheer nonsense of Transubstantiation (The hell with symbolic  cannibalism!) and the utter meaninglessness of the ritual to a teenager.

There is absolutely nothing the Church could do to get me back on a pew every Sunday (or even the odd Sunday!)

One thing that does piss me off is the Church's insistence on considering me a "Lapsed Catholic". I am most definitely an EX-CATHOLIC!


Liz said...

I think you would like Zac's though, shaun. (But not the church that is refusing to open its doors for a night shelter as it doesn't want to upset its neighbours. Excuse me while I spit.)

jams o donnell said...

I doubt I would be tempted to return to Christianity as such but if ever were to it would probably be to the Society of Friends.

That said from what you have written about Zac, I have a hell of a lot of respect.

Claude said...

The Catholic Church will never regain Quebec. It has betrayed the God that it was preaching. Many churches have closed down and have been sold. Also the lack of religious vocations has created a real problems in the churches still opened. They have to import French speaking Africans priests to function. Organised religions always fall short of the Glory they say they represent. Sometimes, it breaks my heart for the many good members who do so many good things for others.

Personally, I prefer to be part of secular organisations and not use the name of God to wipe someone's brow. My faith is very deep but I would never impose it on anyone, and be told what and how to believe.

jams o donnell said...

I daresay the Church will carry on but it is becoming more and more irrelevant,